Our Academic Approach
The academic curriculum model at SIG combines enrichment and acceleration. We offer open-ended and flexible courses in multidisciplinary fields that encourage students to explore interests and passions, as well as engage in concepts they may not encounter in core school curriculum at their age level, and to progress within those concepts at a rigorous and challenging pace that is appropriate for them. Each course is conceptual in its description and will therefore vary somewhat by campus as it evolves according to students’ interests and needs. The beauty of offering a summer learning environment is the flexibility of structure that may not be available in traditional educational environments. This flexibility enhances an environment that strives to unleash the abilities, ideas, and thinking of fertile minds in ways that encourage students to enhance, discover, and pursue their talents and passions.
Most types of gifted, talented, and creative learners (those who have demonstrated advanced abilities through traditional achievement and assessments and those who are creative, productive problem-solvers) who show great potential in wide-ranging human endeavors, will thrive in a learning environment like SIG’s. Each learner is taught uniquely. We encourage students to accept responsibility for the direction of their learning and to participate in selfassessment while at SIG, through informal preferences as well as through the development of personal objectives. Personalized learning is enjoyable. Therefore, we encourage our Instructors to use real and authentic content that addresses the skills, interests, and learning styles of each student. In a three-week program, our goal is to stimulate ideas on an individual level and expand the ways young people think and approach challenges as they construct their own understandings while proceeding along their lifelong pathways of learning.
Parallel to the academic enrichment program is our social/ emotional component, so it is fitting to mention briefly this component within our approach to academics. We believe that students’ emotional happiness is paramount to their overall self-fulfillment and is as important in our programs as is the academic component. We design our programs and student activities to enhance social interaction, acceptance, and fun to the greatest extent possible. Students consistently report that long-lasting friendships are among the most meaningful long-term benefits of their SIG experience.
We design instruction to challenge the student through course content, processes, and products within a learning environment that is flexible and open-ended. Instructors direct activities and content around the central concept of the course. Our goal is for students to engage in cognitive processes that require critical, complex, and creative thinking and problem solving. Instructors begin each course by assessing the knowledge and skills that students bring to each course.
Course activities deliver and enhance course content and objectives in meaningful and relevant ways. Students are encouraged to apply newly gained knowledge to real and authentic problems and situations through products that are as typical as possible of professionals in selected fields of study. Students are further encouraged to apply self-, peer-, and Instructor-generated criteria to the assessment of their processes and products for the purpose of personal growth and awareness. Our hope is that students will continue to pursue interests, questions, and projects that they began during a SIG session well into the coming year and beyond, as they delve deeply into studies that interest and intrigue them.
Academic Performance and Student Evaluation
Parents receive a final Student Performance Review that assesses personal accomplishments and attainment of goals. This report is available online by mid-September and can be sent to the student’s school, with parental permission. A letter indicating successful student participation in, and completion of, the Summer Institute for the Gifted program also can be sent to the student’s school, if parents so indicate.